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Why compatibilist intuitions are not mistaken: A reply to Feltz and Millan

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In the past decade, a number of empirical researchers have suggested that laypeople have compatibilist intuitions. In a recent paper, Feltz and Millan (2015) have challenged this conclusion by claiming that most laypeople are only compatibilists in appearance and are in fact willing to attribute free will to people no matter what. As evidence for this claim, they have shown that an important proportion of laypeople still attribute free will to agents in fatalistic universes. In this paper, we first argue that Feltz and Millan’s error-theory rests on a conceptual confusion: it is perfectly acceptable for a certain brand of compatibilist to judge free will and fatalism to be compatible, as long as fatalism does not prevent agents from being the source of their actions. We then present the results of two studies showing that laypeople’s intuitions are best understood as following a certain brand of source compatibilism rather than a “free-will-no-matter-what” strategy.
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Keywords: Compatibilism; determinism; experimental philosophy; fatalism; free will; moral responsibility

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy, University of Nottingham, 2: Swiss Centre for Affective Sciences, University of Geneva,

Publication date: May 18, 2016

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